Understanding why a tech stack is important for businesses
Understanding the tech stack within an SME is crucial for business owners to make informed decisions about their technology investments and optimise their operations. In this blog post, we’ll explore what a tech stack is, why it’s important to understand it, and how business owners can gain a better understanding of their tech stack to drive growth and efficiency.
What is a tech stack?
A technology stack, or tech stack, is the collection of tools, platforms, apps, and pieces of software that a company uses to build its products, carry out its business operations, and monitor its performance metrics.
No single piece of software or tool can accomplish everything a business needs. Successful companies utilise numerous technologies and products and build a technology stack to achieve their business goals.
Typically, this will include various software applications such as project management tools, time tracking tools, CRM system, analytical software, accountancy software and often software specific to the industry that a business operates in. This will likely be supported by cloud-based services such as backups, mail server and other applications. Then there is the hardware to run any applications and store data including computers, servers and network devices.
Why is it important to understand your tech stack?
When it comes to your company’s tech stack needs, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Each company has unique goals, offerings, and challenges.
There is new hardware, software and technology updates being launched every day so it’s important to have a thorough understanding of your current systems and by reviewing your company’s tech stack regularly you may discover ways to:
- Save employees’ time
- Save money on technology
- Become more efficient in business processes
- Consolidate apps and software
- Maintain a single source of truth for data
Make sure you can rely on your technology
Consider all the tools your business needs to run effectively. This includes everything from the content management system that your website is built and the social media accounts you use to build your brand’s presence to the systems you use to manage stock and monitor company performance.
The systems your employees use should be tied back to your business strategy. As your business grows, its needs will change and expand. You might not need certain technologies you used in the past, or it might be time to invest in a new tool.
It is also worth noting that if you are using cloud based tools to run parts of your business, each of these is also sitting on its own tech stack. For any critical cloud based tools, where possible, you should also be aware of the key components that are used by your supplier to provide these tools. Obviously the big organisations like Microsoft will be secure and robust, but do you have any small specialist suppliers that you rely on?
How an optimised tech stack can increase efficiency and productivity within an SME
Whether you run a startup that’s working toward a minimum viable product or a larger business that’s seeking greater productivity, you can benefit from curating the right set of tools for your team.
Once you know what technology you are actually using and how it inter-relates, you can start to optimise it by removing duplicate tech, and documenting how your team should be using your tech stack and how your organisation works together. Doing so creates a map for your team members to follow so they can create ideal outcomes for your business faster.
The most successful tech stacks can streamline all your processes, help your team increase efficiency and improve customer service.
Beyond its day-to-day operational purpose, your tech stack can also help you solve problems when you hit any bumps in the road. With the right tools, you’ll be able to adapt and bounce back quickly, no matter what you confront.
The risks of not understanding your tech stack
The stack you use for your business can have a significant effect on the overall performance of the business as a whole. Inefficient tech stacks can lead to slower performance, resulting in a poor user experience and a loss of potential customers. They can also require more resources to maintain and scale; increasing operating costs and reducing profitability. An inefficient tech stack can also limit a business’s ability to take advantage of new technologies and opportunities, hindering its growth and competitiveness. Therefore, it is crucial for businesses to carefully evaluate their technology stack and ensure that it is effective and efficient.
As well as the risk to business efficiency, outdated or unproven technology is often not secure enough and has numerous security vulnerabilities. Choosing such technology means exposing your company to the serious threat of data leaks, reputation problems, a potential PR crisis, and, in effect, a decline of your business.
How to gain a better understanding of your tech stack
As your business grows and develops, so will your tech stack. New systems will be added, others will be updated to the latest version. Stacks can become more and more complex with numerous intertwining and co-dependent relationships. It is therefore important to have a thorough understanding of your tech stack so that potential problems can be avoided and opportunities for improvement can be introduced.
You should be sure to take a regular inventory of your technology assets and, wherever possible, seek advice from technology experts who are up to date with the latest developments and can advise on the most appropriate set up to meet your business needs.
The benefits of regularly reviewing and updating your tech stack
As your list of technology gets longer, the law of diminishing returns comes into play, and it becomes more difficult to maintain peak efficiency. This is where it becomes vital to regularly review and update to revitalize your toolkit.
An effective approach to reviewing tech stacks focuses on the business processes connected to each application, rather than the individual technologies themselves.
Start by getting input from all the stakeholders and users from your business. This might include directors, team leads, IT leadership, and individual contributors who use the systems daily.
Focus on gathering the facts about each system and the underlying business process, while noting down users’ views on the effectiveness of each system for analysis later.
Discuss topics like:
- What are your business processes?
- What are all the systems each team uses to complete daily tasks?
- What is the business impact of each system? How does each system impact employee efficiency and the customer experience?
Also review each system to establish:
- How, where, and when is the system used in a business process?
- How ingrained is the system in a business operation? Is it used every day? Or not at all?
- How much would it cost o move to a different system?
- Does the system have the potential to meet more than one need? If so, which needs?
Be sure to check for unauthorised software or other technologies. You can use active monitoring tools to review the apps and tools that your people are using on their devices – as this may throw up technology that your team are using that you didn’t know about. This is called ‘Shadow IT’ and is something that you need to look for and decide whether to accept.
By conducting regular detailed review, you will ensure your tech stack is up to date, fit for purpose and able to support your business strategy effectively.
Where can you get help with your tech stack?
If you are looking for support with leveraging your existing tech stack, or need to review and update your existing one, then get in touch with the Evolve team. One of our vCIOs would be happy to learn more about your business and provide expert and proven guidance on how to move forward and make improvements in your tech stack. To get in touch or to book a call click here.